Kokborok language

Kokborok language

states=India and Bangladesh
region=Tripura, Assam, Mizoram, Bangladesh
speakers=950,000+ 854,023 in India (2001); 105,000 in Bangladesh (1993)
nation=IND (Tripura)

Kokborok (also spelled "Kok Borok") also known as Tiprakok or Tripuri is the native language of the Tripuri people in the Indian state of Tripura and its neighbouring areas of Bangladesh. The word Kokborok is composed of two words, "kok" which means "language" and "borok" which literally means "man" but is used to denote the Tripuri people. Thus Kokborok means "the language of man" or "the language of the Borok people".


Kokborok has existed in its various forms since at least the 1st century AD, when the historical record of Tripuri Kings began to be written down. The script of Kokborok was called "Koloma". The Chronicle of the Tripuri Kings were written in a book called the Rajratnakar, this book was originally written down in Kokborok using the Koloma script by Durlobendra Chontai.

Later, two Brahmins, Sukreswar and Vaneswar translated it into Sanskrit and then again translated the chronicle into Bengali in the 14th century AD. The chronicle of Tipra in Kokborok and Rajratnakar are no longer available. Kokborok was relegated to a common people's dialect during the rule of the Tripuri Kings in the Kingdom of Tripura, in contrast to Bengali language, from the period of the 14th century till the 20th century.

Kokborok was recognised as an official language of Tripura state in 1979. There currently is a debate over giving the language recognition as a National language of India.

Classification and related languages

Kokborok is a Tibeto-Burman language falling under the Sino-Tibetan language family of East Asia and South East Asia.

It is closely related to the Bodo language and the Dimasa language of neighbouring state of Assam. The Garo language is also a related language as spoken in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Kokborok sounds and phonetics

It is a typical Tibeto-Burmese language and consists of the following sounds:


#'a' as in Father
#'e' as in end
#'i' as in in
#'o' as in hot
#'u' as in put
#'w' as in German ü and French "u" (represented by IPA symbol "y").Original writers decided to use the letter w as a symbol for a vowel which does not exist in theEnglish.


The consonants are b, d, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, y along with combined consonants ch, kh, ph, th, ng.

N' is the pronunciation of the nasal sound. eg, "In"'-yes.

Ng is a conjoint letter and is generally used in the last syllable of a word.eg, "Aming"-cat; "Holong"-stone.

Ua is used like, "uak"-pig; "uah"-bamboo; "uatwi"-rain.

Uo is used like, "thuo"-sleeping; "buo"-beat.


A diphthong is a group of 2 vowels. The "wi" diphthong is spoken as "ui" after sounds of the letters m and p. Two examples are: "chumui" meaning "cloud" and "thampui" meaning "mosquito". The "ui" diphthong is a variation of the "wi" diphthong. Other less frequently occurring diphthongs such as "oi" are called closing diphthongs. A closing diphthong refers to a syllable that does not end in a consonant.


A majority of words are formed by combining the root with an affix. Some examples are;
*"kuchuk" is formed from the root "chuk" meaning "to be high", with the prefix, "ku".
*"phaidi" meaning "come" is formed from the root "phai", meaning "to come", with the suffix "di".

There is no Kokborok word beginning with "ng". At the end of a syllable, any vowel except "w" can be found, along with a limited amount of consonants: "p", "k", "m", "n", "ng", "r" and "l". "Y" is found only in closing diphthongs like "ai" and "wi".


"Clusters" are a group of consonants at the beginning of a syllable, like phl, ph + l, in "phlat phlat" "very fast", or "sl" in "kungsluk kungsluk" "foolish man". Clusters are quite impossible at the end of a syllable. There are some "false clusters" such as "phran" "to dry" which is actually "phw-ran". These are very common in echo words : phlat phlat, phre phre, prai prai, prom prom, etc.


There are two tones in kokborok, a high and a low tone. To mark the high tone, the letter "h" is attached to the vowel with the high tone.

example:low tone High tone
#"lai"-easy "laih"-crossed
#"bor"-senseless "bohr"-to plant
#"cha"-correct "chah"-to eat
#"nukhung"-family "nukhuhng"-roof


Morphologically kokborok words can be divided into five categories. They are the following.

(a) Original words: "thang"-go; "phai"-come; "borok"-man; "kotor"-big; "kuchu"-small; "kwrwi"-not;etc.

(b) Compound words, that is, words made of more than one original words: "nai"-see; "thok"-sweet; "naithok"-beautiful; "mwtai"-god; "nog"-house; "mwtainog"-temple; "bwkha"-heart; "kotor"-big; "bwkhakotor"-brave; etc.

(c) Words with suffixes: "swrwng"-learn; "swrwngnai"-learner; "nugjak"-seen; "kaham"-good; "hamya"- bad; etc.

(d) Naturalized loan words: "gerogo"-to roll; "gwdna"-shoulder; "tebil"- table; "poito"-faith; etc.

(e) Loan words: "yar"-friend; etc.

Kokborok Grammar

"See full article Kokborok Grammar"

There is a clear cut difference in Kokborok between nouns and verbs. All true verbs are made with a verbal root followed by a number of suffixes, these suffixes are not placed at random but according to definite rules.

Counting and numbering

Counting in KauBru is called "tukemung". The basic numbers are:


The Tripuri community consists of many tribes and sub-tribes in the Indian state of Tripura, Assam, Mizoram and the neighbouring provinces of the country Bangladesh mainly in Chittagong Division. The main tribes have their own dialects, which differ only slightly among each other, though the dialect spoken around the capital Agartala, the western dialect spoken by "Debbarma" tribe, is taken as the standard for teaching and in literary writings. It is understood by all the other tribes and is the lingua franca of the Hill Indigenous Tripuris in the state. It is taught as medium of instruction up to class fifth and as subject language up to Graduate level.

The tribes and their dialects are listed as follows:
*Debbarma, Western
*Reang, Eastern and Southeastern
*Noatia or Tripura, Southern
*Jamatia, Central
*Darlong, Northern
*and other smaller tribes such as "aiang", "dahula", "laitong", "mrung", "muslung".

Institutions and organisations

Some Tripuri cultural organisations have been working fruitfully for the development of the language since the last century. Foremost among them are the :

* KSS, Kokborok Sahitya Sabha
* KbSS,Kokborok Sahitya Sangsad
* HKP, Hachukni Khorang Publishers
* KOHM,Kokborok tei Hukumu Mission
* KA, Kokborok Academy
* DKP, Dey Kokborok Publishers


TRIPURI 854,023
# Kokbarak 761,964
# Reang 76,450
# Tripuri 15,002
# Others 607

-"Census of India 2001 language report" [http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Census_Data_2001/Census_Data_Online/Language/Statement1.htm]

KOK BOROK (TRIPURI, TRIPURA, TIPURA, MRUNG, USIPI) [TRP] 78,000 in Bangladesh (1993 Johnstone); 658,000 in India (1994 IMA); 736,000 in all countries. Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Baric, Konyak-Bodo-Garo, Bodo-Garo, Bodo. Dialects: JAMATIA, NOATIA, RIANG (TIPRA), HALAM, DEBBARMA.

TIPPERA (TIPPERA-BENGALI, TIPPERAH, TIPRA, TIPURA, TRIPERAH, TIPPURAH, TRIPURA) [TPE] 105,000 (1993 Johnstone). Chittagong Hills. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Unclassified. Many men can speak Bengali. 36 dialects.

-"Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor, 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc."


Kokborok had a script known as "Koloma" which has disappeared now. Since the 19th century the Kingdom of Tripura used the Bengali script for writing in Kokborok. But, since the independence of India and Tripura's merger with India the Roman Script is being promoted by non-governmental organisations. The script issue is highly politicized, with the Left Front government advocating usage of Bengali script and the Tripuri Christians and ethno-nationalists are advocating for the Roman script.

At present both the scripts are being used in the state, in education as well as in literary and cultural circles.

ee also

* Kokborok literature
* Kokborok drama
* Bodo language


* Pushpa Pai (Karapurkar). 1976. "Kokborok Grammar". (CIIL Grammar series ; 3). Mysore: Central Inst. of Indian Languages.
* Dr. François Jacquesson. 2003. "Kokborok, a short analysis". [http://www.tripuranews.co.uk/link%20page/KOKBOROK%20a%20short.html] Paris.
* Binoy Debbarma. 2002. "Anglo-Kokborok-Bengali Dictionary". 2nd edition. Agartala: Kokborok Tei Hukumu Mission (KOHM).

External links

* [http://tripura.nic.in/tripura_kokborok/ Govt of Tripura] Govt of Tripura website
* [http://tripurasociety.org/dictionary/Webform1.aspx Online Kokborok Dictionary] In Delhi Tripura Society website
* [http://www.twipra.com twipra.com] A website about Twipra (Tripura in kokborok).
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=trp ethnologue.com] Ethnologue website entry for Kokborok language
* [http://www.deccanherald.com/archives/jan212005/n13.asp] Deccan Herald Article concerning the Script Issue.

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